Petrov-Vodkin – “Bathing the Red Horse”

This work of Petrov-Vodkin in Soviet times was super popular and familiar to everyone, despite the dominance of socialist realism. The canvas is striking in color, brightness, scale. The color of the picture is built on the contrast of blue and red colors, a strong influence of symbolism is visible – simplicity of forms, monophonic planes.

The horse has always been one of the symbols of Russia. His image is often used both in painting and literature. In Petrov-Vodkin’s painting, the image of a red horse is used in the same context. But its color in no way refers to the Bolsheviks who came to power in 1917. Red, almost crimson, is used here as a symbol of aggression and strength. In addition, the word “red” in Russian has another meaning – “beautiful”. Like Kazimir Malevich, Petrov-Vodkin often used the techniques and techniques of traditional Russian icon painting.

The red horse is without a doubt the center of the picture. It is colossal, it just does not fit on the canvas. Its color and scale render the painting unreal, giving the impression that it is deliberately allowing its rider to control it.

His rider – a naked boy – emphasizes the horse’s power and plays a second role, even his face is depicted schematically. In addition to them, the painting depicts two more horses with riders – white and orange, but they are not drawn as detailed and clearly as the main character of the picture – a red horse.

The surrounding space adds unreality to what is happening – the coastline in the form of an even arc, the color of the surrounding vegetation.

Year of painting: 1912.

Dimensions of the painting: 160 x 186 cm.

Material: canvas.

Writing technique: oil.

Genre: genre painting.

Style: symbolism.

Gallery: State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, Russia.

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